Article first published as Interview: The Secret of Kells director Tomm Moore on Blogcritics.
The Secret of Kells director Tomm Moore is co-Founder and company director of Cartoon Saloon. Since founding the company in 1999 with Paul Young, Tomm has worked on almost every Cartoon Saloon production in various capacities including directing and designing commercials for clients including Cadburys and the Irish Independent, illustrating graphic novels and children’s books and working as animation artist on several TV series’ and feature film productions. Having completed his first feature film, The Secret of Kells, he is currently working on pre-production for his new animated feature film, The Song of the Sea. Tomm is a lifelong comic book and animation enthusiast.
I felt as if I watching a storybook come to life. Where did you draw the inspiration from?
Thanks, that was very much our intention, we wanted to translate the language of illustration to the screen. I feel this is a visual language which is more suited to 2D hand drawn animation than live action and that 2D animation has a unique ability to draw on a rich source of visual language which goes back much further than the language of film.
The influences were of course The Book of Kells itself and medieval artwork, but also the paintings of Gustav Klimt and Alfons Mucha, comics, and Eastern European animation, and Illustrators, including Lizbeth Zwerger, and the paintings of Bill Waterson and of course, Genndy Tartakovsky, Richard Williams and Miyazaki.
Where were you when you received the call that your film was nominated for an Academy Award? What was going through your head?
We were busy trying to figure out the budget of our next feature film, pretty boring stuff. One of the Belgian partners on Kells was here and we were discussing some technical issues for the new project. Then we heard Kairen Wailloch one of the commercial and illustration producers in Cartoon Saloon start screaming in the office outside our little meeting room. Serge Ume (the Belgian partner) thought she had seen a mouse! But then we saw that she was watching a live feed from the states, it was about 2:00 p.m. here. We kept on refreshing the screen to be sure. It was a crazy day after that, the phone kept ringing. I didn’t get to sit down with Serge again to resolve those technical problems until months later!
Any sequels or thoughts of making the prequel (The one released with the app) into a film?
Not really, though people have often suggested we do something more with Aisling. I’m ready to focus on a new project, which is similar but different. Who knows though, if there is demand we’d love to return to some of the characters in Kells again.
What was the best thing about making Kells?
Working with so many talented people who made the film better than we could ever have imagined if we’d worked alone.
What are your plans for your next project?
Song of the Sea is my next film and we have been working in it now for a couple of years, we hope to go into production next spring, but it all depends on financing as usual. The story is something that grew out of the years of research I put into making The Secret of Kells. Its about the fading of old beliefs in the modern world. Its a modern fairy tale aimed at a slightly younger audience than Kells about the last Selkie child in Ireland. She and her brother are in the city and have to find their way back to the sea , along the way they encounter the fading creatures from an almost lost folklore.